Time for some philosophizin'
Does anyone make a 100 watt HF rig today that is specifically designed for portable work? I'm not talking about a radio designed for mobile use, such as being installed in a car for use while driving. There's several of those on the market (Icom 7100, Yaesu FT-891). I'm talking about portable use - designed specifically to be taken to the field for use at a campsite, on a picnic, at Field Day, on a POTA activation, or an ARES, SHARES, RACES or MARS emergency field deployment.
In thinking about it I'd have to say that, among the Big Three (Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu), the answer is no. Nobody makes a radio these days that is specifically designed for portable use. But first, let's spend a minute talking about what a portable rig should be.
To begin with, a good portable rig needs to be, well, portable. Easy to carry and set up. No 20 lb. beasts. No multiple boxes, remote heads, cables and other gee-gaws needed to make it run right and do what it should. All in one container, and that container should be as light and compact as possible given the feature and design requirements. When set up, you shouldn't be looking at a table covered with cables, wires and external devices. Interfacing with a computer for rig control and digital modes should involve one cable, and one cable only.
On the must-have list:
- Weather resistant (IPX5 or better)
- Low current drain while on receive (< 1 amp, but less than 500 milliamps would be better)
- High contrast screen for use in a variety of lighting conditions
- All modes - SSB/AM/CW/Digital/FM
- 80 - 6 meters transmit coverage
- Continuous wide-band receive from 160 - 6 meters
- Built-in soundcard interface for digital modes
- USB interface for rig control, programming & digital mode operations
- GPS & a GPS disciplined internal clock
- Internal batteries for limited low power operations
- The radio plus all accessories, cabling and documentation fit into a Pelican 1520 transport case (18" x 13" x 6.5"), or other equivalent sized protective case, with enough space left over for a small laptop or tablet
- 2 meter & 70 cm all-mode TX & RX
- NOAA weather channel coverage
- Internal antenna tuner
- Integrated carrying handle or rack handles (for example, the excellent carry handle that came with the Yaesu FT-897 or the rack handles that were available for the Icom IC-7200)
- Backlit display
- A true IP56 rating for for protection against water/dust intrusion, or MIL-STD 810 compliance
- If VHF/UHF capable, a built-in AX.25 packet modem (for Winlink packet and APRS) communications)
- HDMI or DVI output, plus companion digital display software for use on Windows & iOS
- Front firing speaker
- Provision for an internal Automatic Link Establishment board